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Poetry for a Pandemic

The transformation of personal meaning

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Have you discovered poetry that speaks to you during this time?
Have you discovered poetry that speaks to you during this time?

Are you familiar with W.B. Yeats’ poem, The Second Coming? I’ll admit that I wasn’t but, after discovering it recently, it has come to occupy my thoughts. Written in the aftermath of World War I and following the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, it reflects a time with historical parallels to our present situation.

It is the poem’s most well-known line, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”, that has lodged itself in my consciousness so. At first, because it captured so perfectly the sense of personal turmoil that I was experiencing, which was mirrored and magnified by the arrival – or coming – of Covid-19.

However, the meaning that I find in that line has shifted over time. Yes, the poem is dark, even doom-laden in tone but the Armageddon it foretells was not realised. Though it may be irreparably changed, somehow life re-orders and recreates itself.

And such is the message I have found for our times: nothing is constant except change; we cannot maintain a steady state. From the embers of this crisis, a different future will emerge: a “new normal” if you will?

Have you discovered poetry that speaks to you during this time? Or have you revisited and reinterpreted a work in light of the current circumstances?

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